privilege of spending several years of my life with a man whom I loved like
my own father who had passed away too soon. During 15 years, we used
to spend all week-ends in Houjarray, next to his home in the countryside.
We used to have long discussions during which he showed an inexhaustible
curiosity for the thoughts of the young man I was at that time. He listened
attentively. He was a very good listener indeed. In turn, I used to listen
to him intently. Maybe just as great names such as Clemenceau, Chang
Kai-Chek, Churchill, Roosevelt, De Gaulle, Adenauer, Willy Brandt and
so many others might have listened to him earlier in his life. He made
everyone he talked to feel intelligent and the most important person on
earth. is being said, it is not my purpose to-day to talk about the private
man. ere is a vast amount of literature about him and over two hundred
Jean Monnet Academic chairs all over the world. I would like therefore
to restrict my presentation to the lessons to be drawn from the life of the
e “Monnet method” has often been a subject for discussion. Numerous
pages have been written on the subject, notably a study by Wolfgang Wessels of
the Institut für Höhere Studien in Vienna, entitled “Jean Monnet - e Man
and e Method”, the subtitle of which posed the question: “Overestimated
and Outdated?”. I will not attempt to examine here the full extent of Jean
Monnet’s philosophy, and even less will I be tempted to imagine what course
Monnet would recommend for Europe in the current situation.
What most characterizes a method is the fact that it can be replicated. In fact,
Monnet did not have a set recipe. He was not a Cartesian. Just the contrary.
He was creative and pragmatic. He was an inventor of chain mechanisms.
Jean Monnet’s achievements are so closely linked to his personality that
only a clone could claim to apply the Monnet method. Inasmuch as there
is no Spinelli or Werner method, there is no Monnet method. erefore I
would rather discuss what could be called a Monnet Process by examining his
accomplishments since he entered public life as well as during the last years of
his life as he headed the Action Committee for the United States of Europe.
Both periods shed light on today’s realities of Europe.
It is helpful to recall how and why the Action Committee came into being.
It was, in eect, the fruit of a decade long process. Monnet’s roots are to be
found in Cognac. His early life was already marked by a sense of the common
good and joint action. is was illustrated when his father after the phylloxera
crisis, that destroyed most of the French vineyards, brought together a large